Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell has been dropped from consideration for the role of the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops because of former abuse allegations against him, according to reports citing sources in Rome.
His appointment had been expected this month, The Age reports.
Cardinal Pell stood down as Archbishop of Sydney in 2002 after he was accused of abusing a teenager at a church camp in the 1960s, but an independent investigation by a retired non-Catholic judge cleared him, the report said.
Last month, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli wrote in Il Giornale that Cardinal Pell had been approved to head the bishops congregation.
But now, according to Tornielli, Cardinal Pell has declined the post and "everything seems to be in doubt". Tornielli said the Vatican was quoting age and health reasons but the Pope might still try to persuade Cardinal Pell to take the post.
However, another well-informed journalist, Marco Tosatto, wrote on his blog that the health reasons were a diplomatic veil. "Pell was blocked by elements in the Vatican because of the abuse allegations against him from the early 1960s," he said.
Tosatto said the fear in the Vatican was that appointing someone to the Congregation for Bishops who had been accused in the past, even if cleared, created the danger of a civil case being brought against him because he was such a high-ranking church official.
A spokeswoman for Cardinal Pell said this was just another rumour, like the recent one that he would head an investigation of abuse in Ireland, which turned out to be wrong, according to The Age.
Cardinal Pell 'blocked' on top Vatican post (The Age)
Not All Roads Lead to Rome (Paul Collins, Catholica)